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Government's move to sabotage free press

Yet again, the government led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) has brazenly tampered the freedom of press by writing a letter to a media house, urging to make its radio programme unbiased.

Although we have already a media oversight body, Press Council Nepal, to monitor whether the content of any media is biased or not, the government's letter to the media house is an outright violation of existing legal arrangement. The sole right to restrict or censure any media content is on the Press Council that too if a complaint is filed, so the unilateral decision of the government to urge the media to be fair is wrong.

The Ministry of Information and Communications, citing the reason from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers over a complaint, wrote on May 20, 2012 to the Image Channel 'to manage for airing the Jana Chaso (People's Concern) radio programme in an unbiased way in the Image FM it runs.

"The government move has come as a series of attack on press freedom. It has ill-intention to control media with authoritative diktat which is not suited in democracy. Also, it is the gross violation of people's right to information and sheer attack on media freedom. The government move must be censured by media and civil society," said Taranath Dahal, Chairman of Freedom Forum.

Moreover, the government has recently issued circular urging the state-run media not to make news about June 8 protest programmes being organized by various 22 opposition parties in the capital city.

It is shocking that government has tried to hush the views of the opposition. With this, the government has violated the rights of the opposition to make criticism. The right to criticism is an ornament of democracy but it is completely ignored by the government.

Urging media to not make news about the views of the opposition parties, the Maoists is gradually building environment to completely control media and suppress any public views, and ideas against it. It is condemnable in deed as it is the totalitarian idea the Maoists is forcefully imposing upon media and depriving people of their right to information.

It is a portent that Nepali media would suffer more in the hands of the Maoists.

To be noted here, 22 political parties, including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, are organizing mass gathering in the capital on June 8 protesting the allegedly unconstitutional move of the Maoist-led government to dissolve historic Constituent Assembly and announce fresh elections without holding consensus.